Fantasy Stay at Château Challain
Chateau Challain’s turrets, sweeping staircases, long drive, and expansive grounds just outside Angers in the French countryside looks as if it has come to life out of a childhood storybook or fairytale.
Indeed, it started as the dream of Albert de la Rochefoucauld and his beloved wife, the Countess Ida, who in 1847 began with a design created for them by the Parisian architect Louis Visconti. Just an hour and a half from the City of Light, and no less grand than her older counterparts in the Loire, this relatively young chateau in neo-Gothic style, sometimes dubbed the “Petit Chambord,” awaits your royal visit. What to Love:
- Complete privacy and rural quiet in the French countryside
- The entire property is available for weddings, events, and galas, and includes all services and catering
- There is no microwave in the chateau.
- Central location: 1.5 hours to Paris by train, five hours to Bordeaux, two hours to Mont St. Michel, one hour to Brittany.
- They will arrange anything. Bike rentals, wine country tours, unforgettable engagement –just ask in advance.
What to know:
- B&B only, restaurants nearby; Les Tonnelles in Candé a few minutes by car or a Michelin star restaurant five minutes away. You can hire a chef to cater.
- The château can be a complete respite or a base for exploring Nantes, Saumur , the Loire Valley, or the Anjou region and Angers.
- There are no attractions within walking distance except for a tiny village. There is a pool available in summer. No weight room. No elevator.
- The château is easily accessible by TGV fast train to/from Paris. Transport from train station to chateau is available through chateau or rental cars available at station.
- Children welcome.
Hotel Review After a few days in busy Paris tripping over the lines at the Louvre, most visitors long for a quiet place in the country. And if you must retreat to the French countryside, I recommend a certain private chateau where you may also indulge your dreams. How about making a grand entrance climbing out of your sports car, tossing back your cape, ambling up the chateau steps and being greeted with a glass of champagne? Or perhaps you envision floating down a glowing marble staircase in your wedding gown to dance the night away with your prince?
Arrive at Chateau Challain and Zeus the German shepherd greets you at the door with affable Jean-Marie and Fabien, the chateau owner’s assistants, not far behind. Take a tour with them to familiarize yourself with the exquisitely carved wood-paneled library stuffed with an enviable French authors collection, the Countess’ serene blue silk bedroom, the stuffed wild animal menagerie ( acquired antiquities), grand salon, and stately dining room, each with its own story and a rich taste of history.
Chateau Challain is so well-located that no matter where you venture from the grounds you can get a different taste of France. In Nantes, Angers and Saumur culture abounds. In the Loire; wines and castles beckon. Chateau Challain is an ideal base for day-tripping in any direction.
Open year-round for guests, fantasy weddings are a specialty from April to October. Marry in the tiny chapel inside the chateau, or on the lake bridge, or under the gazebo, or in the adjacent formal church. Parties book the entire chateau. Consider a trip out to see the grounds, taste the menu, and share with the florist and event planner your vision well in advance. This is a good time to select your honeymoon suite too.
As you might expect in a fairytale castle, the romance factor is high. Moonlight pools in your room through huge windows inviting midnight trysts. Spacious suites are individually decorated in La Belle Époque style and beautifully appointed with carved antique beds, fabric-covered walls, paintings and luxurious private baths. The Empress Suite, in honor of the Empress Eugenie, was created by chateau owner Cynthia after seeing a brooch at a decorator show inspiring aubergine and chocolate wall coverings, elegant bed clothes, and massive silk draperies.
Another suite coveted by the just-wedded is aptly called the Romance Suite. It could be favored for the claw foot tub for two with views to the garden, or the small en-suite dining room. But my guess is the private location and huge rose silk bed! You will not find WiFi or a TV in the suites. Such things of the outside world are available in the television lounge on the second floor. But to ensure that you are cosseted in peace and luxury for a time, you might forget all that and take a stroll in the gardens with your special someone -perhaps to share your own dreams?
While You’re There:
- Romance factor is high; acres of manicured grounds invite long strolls.
- Perfect base for day trips:
- In Angers: Some say the purest French is still spoken here. Visit the ancient seat of the Dukes of Anjou chateau complex which includes the longest medieval tapestry known in the world.
- In Nantes: A historic Loire River city leading out to the sea and built on trade. This birthplace of Jules Verne has more gardens than most cities, and unusual attractions. Visit the huge wooden elephant or enjoy glass orangeries, covered walks and hothouses in Jardin des Plantes laid out more than 200 years ago.
- In the Loire Valley: famous for its historically significant chateau and wines. Check here for a list and websites.
- In Saumur: Caves in the local tuffeau stone are used to grow mushrooms and store wine. Cabernet Franc lovers will recognize Saumur as the source of the appellation Saumur-Champigny.